Track 9. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
In my previous top ten albums of all time I have The Times They Are A Changin’ at number 4. As part of the write up I stated
The Times They Are A-Changin' is a fierce piece of American history and for my taste is the best representation of the power of one person with a guitar and a song.
On no track is this power more evident than The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. The kind of stuff in it that changes hearts instead of minds. The topical song of all topical songs, a bellringer, a knuckle sandwich, a venomous stab at haves and have nots and the systems that perpetuate their positions. Bob’s best closing verse. He shines a light on Bourgeois William Zanzinger and we sit and shake our head with self assurance at his self importance and abuse of poor Hattie Carroll then with a blinding shift Dylan puts on the high beam and turns the light on all of us, himself included.
"In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom,
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin' that way without warnin'.
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished,
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance,
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence."
"Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears."
That word bury explodes through speakers. Leaving in it’s path pure American enlightenment.
The Times They Are A Changin’ is off the board. Slow tear falls for Restless Farewell, One Too Many Mornings, With God On Our Side, Only a Pawn In Their Game, When the Ship Comes In.